OPINION I applaud Wis. Gov. Tony Evers for measures in his proposed state budget that will help Wisconsin’s family farmers, support rural communities and protect the state’s environmental resources.

I’m grateful for the governor’s attention to the needs of the agricultural community and his understanding of the importance of that community to our state as a whole. As Evers noted in his address, we are all connected – and agriculture is one of the things that connects us most strongly. Our farmers provide food and fiber. Our rural residents and urban dwellers create a market, and our transportation system serves us all. We all share the same environment and want to protect our land and water.

We can’t forget that agriculture contributes $88 billion annually to Wisconsin’s economy. We are one of the top-three economic engines in the state. Evers’ budget recognizes that reality.

Among the budget items I commend are:

  • substantial investments in our transportation system
  • investments in rural broadband to enhance connectivity
  • support for our farmers through increased mental-health assistance and grants for small dairy processors
  • increased funding for water-quality initiatives
  • additional resources for Wisconsin’s developing hemp industry

Our farmers have struggled under some difficult circumstances recently, but we also have so many opportunities. The governor has continued the work of Dairy Task Force 2.0 to help promote and enhance the cornerstone of Wisconsin agriculture. But we also have a strong organic sector, growing interest in grazing as an alternative, the promise of industrial hemp, and even a developing wine and grape industry.

The additional funding and new programs the governor is proposing would support those efforts for years to come.

Brad Pfaff is the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Visit datcp.wi.gov for more information.